by Hannah Phillips
Hannah joined the BB team as our Community Manager in August 2014, bringing on board her sweet pup, Lucy, as our official BB mascot. Check out her tips on natural dog care and how she creates a healthy environment for her pet.
I adopted Lucy in 2013 from Austin Pets Alive, a local charity that has saved more than 25,000 at-risk animals from municipal shelters since 2008. They do this by targeting dogs and cats in need of expensive medical treatment and/or behavioral support beyond the city’s means. APA pulls these animals off the euthanasia list, provides the necessary care and training, and prepares pets for adoption in their ‘forever homes’.
Since my siblings suffered from asthma growing up, we couldn’t have any outdoor pets that would bring in aggravating pollens, etc. So when I moved back to Austin and had my own home, I was eager to adopt from APA as soon as possible. I found Lucy on a sunny Saturday morning at one of their local sites: she was a parvovirus survivor and had (okay, still has) some behavior issues due to the abuse she suffered in her previous home. But when she fell asleep snoring in my lap while I talked to the APA team…game over! I knew I had to take her home that day.
This picture was taken the day I adopted Lucy. She started snoozing in my lap that day, where she’s been snoozing ever since.
I’ve always sought to provide as safe a home environment for Lucy as possible—especially considering all the crazy things that curious puppies get their noses/teeth/paws into. When she was young, I worked hard to keep my personal care and cleaning products out of her reach. Once I started working for Branch Basics, though, I began to realize that she could be exposed to potentially harmful chemicals just by taking a bath, lying on the carpet, or licking food off the kitchen floor. I love knowing that the product I use for my own face wash and household cleaning jobs also protects my pet from absorbing dangerous toxins!
Below are some of the products and practices that I do as part of my daily care routine for Lucy, which help me ensure her environment is as chemical-free as mine.
Natural Dog Care: BATHTIME
It’s not easy lifting 55 pounds of pit bull into the bathtub (much less keeping it there!), so I wash Lucy in the shower. She’s a bit of a squirmer, so I come equipped with the Foaming Hand Soap bottle, our All-Purpose sprayer, and a bucket. Then, I spray her down or use the foamer, massage into her coat, and use the bucket to rinse off thoroughly. You can repeat this as many times as you need, depending on how dirty your dog is. Sometimes, I add Lavender Scent Oil to the sprayer, but the best part of using BB on Lucy is that it completely cleans her coat without leaving any odor behind.
The puppy shampoos I used before Branch Basics usually just masked doggie odor with synthetic scents for about twenty minutes after bath time—only to leave a lingering wet dog smell while she dried off! Gross. I love that using BB means that she just smells clean. Of course, it’s also a relief knowing that there are no ingredients in our soap that could harm her eyes or skin, and that it’s safe for me while I wash her with it! I also use the Bathroom cleaner to spray down the shower after I dry her off.
Natural Dog Care: ON THE GO
After particularly muddy trips to the dog park, my travel-sized spray bottle of Branch Basics is invaluable! I used to use baby wipes to quickly clean her coat, but unfortunately many wipes contain parabens and toxic chemicals that are harmful to both humans and pets. Now, I just give Lucy a quick spray with the 2oz All-Purpose I keep in my car, and wipe her down with a dry towel—paying particular attention to those muddy paws so I can keep unwanted prints off the seats!
In the car, Lucy loves to travel with her little snout out the window for optimal sniffing, but when it’s rainy, I use the Streak-Free spray to clean the eager nose-streaks (and occasional licks) she leaves behind. And let’s not forget home windows, too: Lucy’s version of TV is staring at squirrels and birds outside, so I’m constantly using BB to keep that ‘TV’ clean.
Natural Dog Care: AROUND THE HOME
Along with windows, Branch Basics soap is great for cleaning Lucy’s toys, messes, and laundry. Pit bulls have particularly strong jaws (all the better to smile with), so they need pretty durable chew toys. I gave up on soft toys because they never survive more than a week, but since most are stuffed with synthetic materials, I don’t consider that a loss for Lucy’s safety.
Instead, our favorite by far is the classic Kong, which I fill with organic peanut butter (trust me, you will notice the difference if you give your dog the good stuff). I love the Kong because it’s durable enough even for Lucy (it’s lasted since day one!), and like the floatable Pooch Tube pictured below, it’s made of safe, nontoxic rubber.
To clean her toys, I simply place them with about an ounce of Branch Basics Concentrate in a bucket of water, soak for a bit, and then dry. The All-Purpose works great for cleaning her dog bowls, too, and it’s a lifesaver for puppy messes: if you’re potty training, it’s essential to clean up with products that don’t contain ammonia (of course, BB soap doesn’t). Otherwise, doggies will equate the ammonia, which is also in their pee, as ‘marked’ territory, and they’ll keep coming back to the same spot.
Finally, like soft toys, dog beds are often stuffed with synthetic materials. Breathing in those toxic chemicals every night can be dangerous for your pup, but don’t forget that it’s harmful for you, too, especially if you’re sleeping in the same room. I took the stuffing out of Lucy’s store-bought bed, and replaced with a cotton blanket instead. Now, I can wash both the inside and outside of her bed with Branch Basics Concentrate in the laundry—and YES, it DOES remove the smell of dog pee. One of my favorite uses ever!
- For more healthy living and nontoxic cleaning tips, be sure to “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, “Like” our Pinterest page, and follow us on Twitter!
Do you have any recommendations for natural dog care? What are your favorite products and tips for keeping your dog chemical-free?
Ready to streamline your routine? Read Clare’s tricks in Safe + Simple: Tips from a Minimalist Mama.
Going on a trip? Check out our Healthy Travel Guide for our favorite travel snacks and tips for preventing sunburn, jetlag, and more!
Want another trick for improving indoor air quality? Find out why we’re loving Himalayan Pink Salt Lamps!
Keep reading about chemicals to avoid in your home: Common Chemicals to Avoid – A Branch Basics Series.